When you Write, you Have to get it Right

Posted by martin.parnell |

On Sunday, December 1st, I attended a screening of The Secret Marathon film, at the wonderful, old, Globe cinema, in Calgary. 

The film documents my trip to Afghanistan, in 2016, to run a marathon, in support of women and girls who are determined to have the freedom to run, in a country where their participation in sports is still, in most areas, forbidden. It was a wonderful evening; the film had to be shown on both screens, simultaneously, as there was such a huge demand for tickets. Thank you to all those who attended. 

Just prior to the event, I received a message asking me if I would be travelling from Edmonton, to attend. Also, at the venue, someone commented to my wife that they hadn’t realised we had moved to Edmonton. We had not and remain in Cochrane, just outside of Calgary, where we have lived for the past 14 years. 

All became clear when I read the Program Guide, which states that I am an “Edmonton – based marathon runner”. It reminded me of the of the film’s premier, at Cinefest, in Sudbury, Ontario. When the list of films to be shown was first released, it named ours as The Silent Marathon. We quickly got that rectified. 

Now you may think that, in the grand scale of things, neither of these issues are of great importance. But, over the years, I have had many articles written about me and it’s surprising how often statements are made that are inaccurate e.g. my age, where I’m from, dates of events, names of organisations for whom I’m fundraising and what they do etc. 

So, I asked myself, how is it that facts can be stated inaccurately, so many times? 

In my mind, it is the job of the author of the piece to do the checking. If you are writing about a particular person, contact them and ask them for details or, even better, send them a copy of what you have written in order to check the facts, before it goes to print. 

The same applies if you are writing about a company or any other issue. Contact someone in the know and get your facts right. When I write, I make every effort to do this. This is also one of the reasons why it is so important to give a credit to the author when you are quoting from someone else. Not only is it good practice to give them an acknowledgement for their work, but, if they have stated a fact inaccurately, it’s their responsibility, not yours. 

When you’ve finished writing about anything, why not try this simple tongue-twister to remind yourself: 

                 “Check your facts, before the fact-checker checks.” 

There are many articles written on the subject of fact checking and “fake news” and how, in extreme cases, it can ruin reputations, smear companies etc.  But, on a personal level, when I have read a piece and found it to be inaccurate, it makes me wonder about other work by the same author. 

Get it right and people will trust what you have to say.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

comments powered by Disqus